First, let me to introduce the world’s expert on caramelized bananas, my Mom!
If I had to select one recipe to always associate with her,  I’d pick caramelized bananas.  When I was a child she’d make a batch almost every week,  using different types of bananas from the street markets of Sao Paulo.  Sometimes, depending on the variety she found at the market,  the “doce de banana”  turned almost purple when she cooked it, which was quite interesting.  For my Brazilian readers, “banana prata” was the one that acquired the reddish-purple color.  But, the regular Brazilian banana, which is the one on the shelves here in the US, was her top choice, because both me and my Dad loved it the most.  It gets dark brown, with an intense, sweet flavor and a splash of freshness from the lemon juice squeezed at the end.  So, when I saw this recipe in the February issue of Food and Wine I immediately went to work, making a batch of caramelized bananas, and using some for this delicious frozen yogurt treat.

(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch rounds
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons 2 percent milk (divided)
2 + 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 + 1/3 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the bananas in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Cook over moderate heat, turning once, until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice all over.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the rum and swirl the pan to completely dissolve the sugar. Scrape three-quarters of the bananas into a food processor and add 3 tablespoons of the milk. Puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a small bowl and freeze until chilled, 15 minutes. Chop the remaining bananas and freeze until chilled.

In another bowl, whisk the cocoa with the granulated sugar, salt, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk in the yogurt until smooth, then the banana puree.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn until nearly frozen. Mix in the chopped bananas and pieces of chocolate. Scrape the frozen yogurt into an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.


to print the recipe, click here

Food memories are so powerful!   As the bananas cooked down in the skillet, their aroma whisked me back to my  parents’ home.  Suddenly I was 17 again and rushing  home from school, dashing to the kitchen, all tantalized by the smell of Mom’s caramelized bananas.  Back home people like to pair them with farmer’s cheese or some vanilla ice cream, but I’m a purist: just a small bowl of “doce de banana,” and a tiny spoon to make sure the pleasure lasts longer…  😉

I never imagined using them as part of a frozen dessert, but it is sublime!  The  yogurt reduces the sweetness, but the bits of banana and the chunks of chocolate bring it back, just enough to make you happy.   It is still a light dessert, much lighter than ice cream, and perfect for someone who’s not wild about sugary concoctions.  Come to think of it, the other day I found a recipe online for burnt orange ice cream, and my antennas immediately went up.  But I found that it called for a cup and a half of heavy cream,  a cup of whole milk, a ton of sugar, and 5 egg yolks.  It’s easy to make a decadent dessert with such a surplus of fat, but as David Lebovitz points out in his book “The Perfect Scoop,”  it’s really not necessary, and this frozen yogurt proves his point.   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

TWO YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

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